By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, July 28, 2016 – OPPOSITION leaders have called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to surrender the running of the 2018 elections to an independent commission to be run under auspices of a regional body as fears grow the next polls could be rigged again.
Zimbabwe has had successive polls whose outcomes have strongly been disputed by the opposition.
Most of its elections have been marred by violence and allegations of vote rigging by incumbent President Robert Mugabe, who stands accused of stuffing the election management body with allies.
But speaking under their umbrella Coalition of Democrats (CODE) in Harare on Thursday, the leaders said the only way the country could safeguard the credibility of the next polls was to allow a more independent body from outside to preside over them.
“CODE calls for a free and fair election managed by the international community. This can be SADC, AU and or UN singly or together. Our ZEC is heavily partial and cannot hold credible, free and fair election,” coalition spokesperson Gilbert Dzikiti told the media.
“The old ZEC commissioners who presided over countless disputed elections have been recycled. There is clear indication from Mugabe that this is his rigging machine.”
CODE comprises Elton Mangoma’s Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ), Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile, Dzikiti’s Democratic Assembly For Restoration and Empowerment (DARE) and Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC.
The coalition leaders also dismissed the proposed biometric voters roll to be used in 2018 saying it was prone to manipulation by both Zanu PF and ZEC.
“A computer system can be manipulated and very few if any of the political parties and civil society has any skill to detect such manipulation,” Dzikiti said, while flanked by Mangoma and Makoni.
“This will be giving Zanu PF and ZEC a free hand to rig with the permission of the political parties. You cannot control what you do not know.
“ZANU PF and ZEC control the passwords and any override authority. These are the very people whom the Zimbabwe people do not trust. They can alter the data at any time. Remember whoever has the authority to add a voter’s data can change or delete it and none of us can ever detect it.”
The coalition noted that Zanu PF would use BVS in intimidating voters calling for the use of ID document.
“Zanu PF is a master at intimidating the voters. A BVS accompanied by computers and the whole backup equipment, will easily be a new handy and not physically violent way of intimidating voters. CODE therefore advocates for the use of identity documents with citizens as defined by the constitution being allowed to vote,” they said.